A few words about Saint Irene


Which Saint Irene is honoured alongside Saints Raphael and Nicholas, and is co-commemorated with them every year on Bright Tuesday following Easter?

She naturally isn't Saint Irene the Great Martyr who is commemorated on May the 5th, nor is she Saint Irene Chrysovalantou who is commemorated on the 28th of July. There are very many saints who may have the same name, however they are definitely different persons.

So, who was this Saint Irene?

Young Saint Irene was the daughter of the community provost of Thermi, Lesvos Island - a village that was adjacent to the Monastery dedicated to the Nativity of the Theotokos, where Saint Raphael was established as Abbott, accompanied by his underling, Saint Nicholas the Deacon. Provost Basil, Irene's father, together with Theodore, the village teacher, were the ones who had guided Saint Raphael and Saint Nicholas - who had fled as refugees from Thrace after the Fall of Constantinople - to settle in the Monastery at Thermi on Lesvos Island. He gradually became a close friend of Abbott Raphael and Deacon Nicholas.

What kind of person was Saint Irene?

Maria (Provost Basil's wife and Irene's mother) narrated the following (to Christian people seeing her in their dreams):

"The Abbot (Saint Raphael), Nicholas and Irene were saints even during their lifetime. They had been sealed by God Himself. And as for my little Irene - well, no matter what we did or said to her, she would always tell us that her path had already been carved out, as indicated by the Monastery's Abbot, and that she was going to follow the path of our Lord. The Saint had a special way of treating and teaching each and every one. That's why we couldn't coax her away from him She wanted to stay at the Monastery all the time..."

"This property was our summer place. This is from where my little Irene would leave and go up to the Monastery on foot."

"Saint Raphael himself had baptised her; during the baptism, he had beseeched the Holy Mother to grant charismas and virtues to little Irene. That was why Saint Irene stood out from all the other children."

Saint Irene, appearing in a dream, revealed the nobility and the subtleness of her soul by unveiling the following: Her parents had been looking after three orphaned little girls. One of them was jealous of Irene and would grab the opportunity to beat her and say hurtful things to her whenever she could. But young Irene pitied her and never mentioned the young girl's misbehaviour to her father or mother, for fear that they might send her away from their home.

How was Saint Irene martyred?

When the Ottoman Turks overtook the island of Lesvos, Saint Irene was already 12 years of age. When, a year later, the Ottomans invaded Saint Raphael's Monastery, Irene and her family had sought refuge there in the hope of finding greater safety. However, after trampling on Saint Irene's little brother to death, they grabbed her immediately after. The events that ensued were disclosed by the Saint herself, in a dream that she had appeared to a villager of Thermi, Ms. Vasiliki Ralli:

"...If you only knew the tortures we were subjected to! They first cut off one of my hands and tossed it in front of my parents, while simultaneously forcing my mouth open and pouring scalding hot water into it. They finally burnt me alive, inside a huge clay pot that stood in the courtyard of the Monastery..."

"...They had my mother tied to a tree, thus forcing her to watch my martyrdom... she cried, she screamed in despair, she was torn at the sight, but her maternal heart couldn't handle that much hurt... she died, because her heart failed her. My father had held up to all their tortures, until the Turks eventually slaughtered him... Despite everything, my father and my mother never betrayed their faith - nor their countrymen who had taken to the hills..."

"...Vasiliki, if you only knew the terrible pain that I had undergone... it is impossible to even imagine it... The Turks burnt me alive inside this clay pot. When the Christians hurriedly buried us during the night. they collected my bones from inside the pot and placed them in a grave near my father. They hadn't noticed the few bones that you found inside the pot, because those had been covered by rubble and forgotten there. That rubble had fallen from the walls of the church, when they blew it up..."

Despite the horrific pain she had been subjected to, Saint Irene remained steadfast, and, when asked (in other dreams in which she appeard) how she felt during her martyrdom, she would say: "I was not afraid at all, because I knew that God was my Protector. I would look at my father, then Saint Raphael, and would say to myself: I too will hold up to the torture..."

Among which chorus of Saints has Saint Irene been included?

Saint Irene herself revealed in which particular chorus of Saints she had been included, and the glory that she had been crowned with: She belongs to the Virgin-Martyr Saints. Her young age is not of importance. Her holy personality is the reminder that sanctity is not measured by one's age, but by the zest of their faith...

On the 3rd of December 1961, a denizen of Mytilene (the capitol of Lesvos), Kostas Kanellos, saw Saint Irene in a dream, standing inside the village church. "Kosta", she said, "they still haven't done what I asked of them. Tell them to paint an icon of me also, as I too am a Martyr of the Faith. If they ignore this request, it will be to their detriment... I want it to be carried in the procession together with the Icon of Christ that I pointed out to you, which you had found inside the Sanctum of the ancient Church. I would also like the tiny reliquary with my bones to be placed near Saint Raphael..."

In what form, what external likeness does Saint Irene appear?

The Saint very often appears in dreams and visions, either on her own or together with Saints Raphael and Nicholas, with the testimonies of the faithful usually coinciding with the following description:

She is a very pretty, blonde-haired girl, her hair parted in the middle and ending in two braids. She has vivid blue eyes and rosy cheeks. She is usually seen dressed in a long white robe, and whenever she is seen walking, she usually glides like an angel, without her feet touching the ground...

May we have her blessing!